Happiness is... so many things. It's all the little things that make up our days, the experiences that make up our memories, the things that make us smile, inside and out.

It's also the big things in life, like receiving good medical results, and it's all the things in between, like enjoying that well deserved vacation.

Happiness is...

Watching my children sleep.

Hearing their laughter.

Playing with my boys, lost in the moment.

The words spoken by my 2 year old. Words so often said the wrong way that make them that much more beautiful to hear. (Mickmack = meatsauce, I no no = I don't know.)

Affection and love between brothers.

Reading to my children.

Seeing my boys play with their daddy.

Conversations with my curious 4 year old, and watching him exploring and discovering, searching for fossils on his expedition.

Seeing my two year old steal the show wherever we go with his happy smile and proud walk.

Happiness is also the big things in life, like...

Feeling blessed to have a wonderful family, a grandmother who comes over almost daily to cook for us, to take care of my children, and to clean my house, out of the kindness of her heart.

Having a husband who stands by me no matter what I do, always supportive, always there for me.

Parents who cannot possibly love my children any more.

Hearing you are okay after a medical scare.

Seeing your child get better after a serious illness.

Feeling safe at home during a horrible storm.

Reading the news, when it's good, as rare as that is.

Happiness is also...

Getting off the plane!

Palm trees. The ocean.

The feel of hot sand on my feet.

Going back to my favourite shopping centre and inhaling.

A new purchase. A new purchase. A new purchase.

Beautiful resorts, amazing pools, tropical drinks and people watching in the lobby.

An oceanview balcony and the sound of waves crashing as I sleep at night.

Exploring a new country and taking countless numbers of pictures.

Eating a great dinner at my favourite restaurant with wine and desert.

A long drive, with amazing music.

A really good book.

A really awesome TV show.

Getting in bed after a long day.

Hearing my name being called, no matter the time, day or night: "Mama! Mommy!"

Running to my children, arms outstretched, and seeing my children running towards me.

Seeing a good friend after a long time and conversations that last all night long.

Happiness is all that and all the things that are left unspoken.

A priceless day

$85.00 Museum of Nature membership renewal fee;

$40.99 spent at gift shop;

$29.00 for a lunch of sausages, hamburgers, chips and drinks;

$10.00 parking fee;

The experience of re-discovering this fabulous museum with my children?


Yes, we braved the heat, sun, and 45 minutes in a very long line up (don't worry, we spent the rest of the day swimming!) so we could see the newly renovated Mueum of Nature, aka 'the castle', that was six years and $216 million dollars in the making!

It was worth the wait. My boys loved it - really, what's not to love?

Christos was in his element, among all the rocks and crystals, at the Vale Earth Gallery, and he also loved the Fossil Gallery - seeing all the giant fossils and dinosaurs was really cool!

Dimitry especially loved the Water Gallery (you have to check out the real blue whale skeleton - it was massive!) but I think the highlight of his visit was the sausage he had for lunch!

I remember frequently visiting this museum as a child - with my parents, and of course, on school field trips. (My favourite section was the Mammal Gallery!) The entrance was always a highlight of my visits, too, and to see it all together again today was awesome.

One of things I love most about this city is the museums we are forturnate to have. I've blogged before about the fabulous Children's Museum we have in the Museum of Civilizations and that is one place I never tire of visiting with my boys, along with the Science and Technology Museum, The War Museum, and The Aviation Museum. Well, now we can add the Museum of Nature back on our list! (We did visit often during renovations, but it was nothing like this!)

If you haven't had a chance to visit the new Museums of Nature, I highly recommend it for the whole family - you will not be disappointed!

If you're not interested in getting a family membership, admission is only $25 for the family, or $10 for adults, and $6 for children over 3. You can enjoy the museum for free on Thursdays from 5 to 8, too, and the museum is also open on Mondays.


Out with a bang!

Friends, let's talk.

Last night's Grey's Anatomy 2 hour season finale - what did you think?

Were you shocked?
Sitting on the edge of your seat?
Drinking from the bottle to numb the pain?
Watching with your hands covering your eyes?

Yeah. It was a pretty intense 2 hours, no? From start to finish, I didn't know what to expect. I told myself, "Loukia, after last year's shocker finale episode, anything is possible this year, so be prepared."

I thought I was strong. I was wrong.

A shooter in the hospital. Before I actually watched the episode, I didn't realize just how scary it was going to be. It was really, really scary. Consider yourself warned.

Pregnant Meredith. The gunshots. The anticipation. The worry, the fear. Who would die next? Would Alex survive? Poor Bailey! And that scene with Derek and the shooter, with Meredith and Cristina watching, too far to do anything to help? And April - hands up if you just wanted to slap this girl last night! Holy heart stopping episode!

The elevator scene with Cristina, like McMommy mentioned in her post today, was so well done. I really thought I was going to have a heart attack right then and there, didn't you?

And then, in typical Grey's fashion, the last 10 minutes or so, when Cristina is operating on Derek, trying to save his life, and the shooter has the gun pointed at her head? And then Meredith telling the shooter to shoot her instead? And then Owen getting shot? And then Dr. Avery saving the day (phew!)? It was all too much!

I loved it, truly. It was an amazing, shocking, and intense 2 hours of television, that's for sure. No one knew what was coming. No one was safe. Who would be the next victim? Well done, Shondra Rhimes, well done.

Now, a few cons?

Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have topped last year's season finale shocker. Nobody saw that ending coming, seriously. So after that, this episode, although amazing, left me expecting the worst for everyone. But still, I was terrified - man, Mr. Clark was creepy, no?

Couldn't Meredith have told Derek she was pregnant before he went into surgery? I would have totally told him. To give him something to fight for.

The lack of cell phones. Come on, Seattle Grace! While I understand doctors still use pagers, don't tell me NONE of them had a cell phone in their pockets! No iphones or blackberry's? Really? Also, if Meredith and Teddy and the rest of them were on Twitter, a lot less damage would have happened:

@Grey Holy shit meet me on the 3rd floor by the elevators!
@Teddy I need you, like YESTERDAY, Derek has been shot in the heart!
@Derek I'm pregnant. I love you. Stay safe.

I mean, seriously, Twitter would have totally helped in last night's situation.

Also, why was nobody (like Bailey) using a regular phone for help? Lockdown doesn't mean the phone lines are dead! Couldn't Bailey find a PHONE to call 9-1-1 to get the elevators working again? It would have a smart move, right?

Overall, phenomenal episode, and I am so glad we were not left with a cliff hanger like last year. If we didn't find out Derek's fate last night, well, how would we have survived the summer?

I turn the floor to you now. What are your thoughts with last night's season finale?


Milestones, heartache, and a lost tooth!

It should come as no surprise to you that I am very (in fact, overly) emotional when it comes to my children reaching milestones. Since becoming a mom, I am way more emotional than I used to be. Everything make me cry.

Looking at my son's school calendar for the month of June, I see "last day of school celebrations!" and right away, there are tears in my eyes. What a celebration, indeed! My son has blossomed into such a social little boy, with the most amazing sense of humour, compassion and the ability to understand things that most children his age don't. He watches the Discovery Channel, he knows and cares about those in other parts of the world, who don't have food, or a roof over their head, and he asks countless numbers of questions, always inquiring. He is into fossils now, always wants to know how things are made, and has decided rather than becoming a constuction worker, he will be a paleontologist.

Watching your child reach certain milestones - the first smile, the first crawl, and the first time they walk, is emotional for a mom. Every time a milestone is reached, I shed a few tears, because it reminds me how quickly time passes. In fact, the baby phase goes by much too quickly, if you ask me.

Haven't we all said "I can't wait until they grow up!" at one point or another? And then, when that day comes, you wonder how it snuck up on you so fast. And that you didn't really mean it, after all.

Some 'milestones' that meant meltdown for me included the day I gave my boys the bottle for the first time, and the day my oldest son was toilet trained. Yes, it only took a day, and yes, I was happy, but it was another 'baby' phase, just flushed down the toilet!

And my baby, my youngest? Now two years old, he's already, although still a mama's boy, a little spit-fire, fiercely independent, always happy, brave and fearless. Oh yes, I imagine many nights of lost sleep as he gets older. My worry will only continue to increase!

Recently, a pretty HUGE milestone was reached, unexpectedly. In the car on our weekend trip to Toronto, my oldest son was playing with his seatbelt. It snappbed back, and then...

I saw him holding his mouth. And then I saw my husband looking into hand.

"What? What happened? What is it?" I asked.

"His tooth just fell out," my husband answered.

"WHAT?" I screamed, in shock - this wasn't supposed to happen yet! Even though he did get his bottom two teeth in at four months old, and even though children whose teeth come in early lose them early, I was shocked. That was it. A baby tooth, gone.

I held it together, not as good as my husband, but better than my mom who was crying in the front seat of our rented mini-van. And I looked at my son, with his new smile, and I couldn't help but smile myself, even though my heart was aching at the same time.

Milestones... so bittersweet!

P.S. The tooth fairy left him $5 in Toronto, and $50 dollars back home, with a personalized letter and everything. She was so proud of him!



Ah, summer... the beautiful, glorious days and nights of summer!

The season of soccer games and visits to the park has officially begun. Bike rides, long walks, picnics, family vacations, swimming all day, ice cream and BBQ's. No wonder the television stays turned off during the summer months. There is just way too much going on outside -who wants to be indoors, anyway?

But. Before we fully embrace summer, there is one agonizing rite of passage we all have to go through.

It's painful. It's stressful. It's annoying. It makes us feel angry and hurt. It gets our hearts racing, and makes our blood pressure reach a dangerous level. We have a hard time falling asleep afterwards, and we may or may not have a few disturbing dreams.

Usually, we survive with a drink in hand, a few air punches, and several curse words. Hair pulling is optional, too, and the 'covering your eyes with the nearest pillow' usually happens once or twice during this ordeal.

The following can often be overheard in any given suburban home right about NOW:


"What? Did that just really happen? There is no way. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY!"

"HOLY SHIT! This is unreal. How dare they. How DARE they! This can't be..."

"Huh. I did NOT see that one coming."

"Is he dead? Is he dead? Is he dead? NO. Please, no. Please, please, no."

"I cannot BELIEVE I have to wait until September! September! to find out what will happen to her/him/them. That is NOT FAIR! I can't stand this!"

"Oh no! Oh no! Chuck! Why couldn't Jenny have just jumped off the train? Oh, no... no, no, no... that stupid little..."

"WHAT WHY WHAT WHY really? OH, my GOD! How could he! What was he THINKING?"

And, as we can all remember vividly from last year:

"WHAT THE F! George! It's GEORGE! NOOOOOOOO.... Is Izzy dead? Poor Alex! Is George dead? What just happened in that elevator? Are they BOTH dead? NO freaking way Shondra Rhimes! NO WAY I HAVE TO WAIT A FEW MONTHS!!!!! TO SEE WHO IS DEAD!"

And, watching certain shows: (*ahem Desperate Housevives ahem*)

"Huh? That was it? Really? That sucked. Oh well. At least I got to enjoy my caramel Aero McFlurry. Thanks hubby."

Yes, friends. I'm talking about the dreaded season finale. The only thing worse than a season finale you are dying to see, yet so terribly NOT wanting to see, is a series finale. And we all know that LOST is coming to an end. And even though I've never really gotten into LOST, (hello... I'm totally lost!) I feel your pain. Because I have a feeling one of two things will happen with the series finale:

1. It was all a dream.

2. You'll still be left really confused, and you'll have nowhere to turn to except your wine.

Well, I'm here to offer you all a place to come and cry, to scream, to curse. Let it all out. Your series and season finale stresses now have a place to go. Let's talk about it. What pissed you off? What show are you not looking forward to seeing the finale of?

What will happen on Glee?

Who will win Dancing With the Stars?

Bueller... Bueller?

It's okay. I'm here for you. I feel your pain. In fact, I'm already having palpitations thinking about the season finale of Grey's tomorrow night. A pregnant Meredith. A shooter on the loose in the hospital. This can't end well, folks.

I need more wine.

It's okay if...

Travelling with young children is not as hard as you may think. My children have flown to Florida numerous times, to Bahamas, and to Washington, D.C. We've also gone on quite a few 'road trips' as well. (Road trip can be even more challenging than flying, believe it or not!) I've posted before about staying sane when travelling with children, and some of the crazy things that have happened to me when on vacation. Here are some more tips for you, if you're about to travel with your little ones - tips to keep YOU and your children relaxed and happy!

When on vacation, it's okay if...

You totally enjoy the view.

You travel with your entourage. I always do. As in, I bring my husband, parents, sister, brother-in-law, and sometimes, my grandmother along. This is great for everyone! For the children, and for me, too. How else would I be able to sneak off to the poolside bar for a pina colada?

Your carry-on bag weighs a ton. (This means you have enough DVD's, toys, books and candy to entertain your children for the otherwise boring plane ride, and also, it's great exercise for the arms!)

Your children only shower once in 4 days. (They're spending the majority of the day in the pools and ocean anyway, right?)

You sleep in full make-up and lulu's because you know you'll be walking in the lobby with your baby at 4 a.m.

You eat plenty of carbs. (Calories, carbs and fat don't count, EVER, when on vacation!)

Your 4 year old sits in the baby's stroller - hey, as long as it keeps him quiet as you make your way through Saks, why would you have a problem with this?

Your baby eats sand as you try to take yet another picture of him playing on the beach.

You let your baby press many unneccessary buttons on the elevator as long as it's higher than the floor you're getting off on.

You let your baby walk around in nothing but a onesie on the airplane.

Your children eat more whipped cream than strawberries with their breakfast.

You drink a strawberry daiquiri as your baby naps under the palm trees.

You remind your son the importance of staying in school after he admires the jewellery in the Cartier window, so that he will be able to buy you that 10 carot ring someday!

You wash the baby bottles with the hotel shampoo.

You let your child steal extra soap from the cleaning cart.

You order an 8 dollar glass of warm milk to be brought up to the hotel room because you're too lazy to go down to get some for your child.

Chocolate is consumed day and night.

You totally enjoy every moment!

You pack way more shoes than you end up wearing. The stress of under-packing is not worth it!

Also okay? To buy a new suitcase at Target for all the new things you have bought on vacation!

I just don't understand...

One of the great things about having children is being able to watch cartoons again. I'm not talking about shows that should have never been on the air, like Barney and TeleTubbies. I'm talking about shows like Bugs Bunny and Sesame Street. Shows that make me laugh a little (Besides Eric Cartman, Bugs Bunny is the coolest cartoon character ever!)

I also like watching shows that teach my children a thing or two - like The Electric Company, How It's Made, and Mighty Machines. (I can tell you with absolute certainty the difference between a backhoe and a front loader.) And my 4 year old's current favourite show - Man vs. Wild. I'm not so into that show, to be honest with you, but I'm a girl, and well, I don't like the idea of eating larvae from a tree.

Anyway. Some shows, my children never got into. And with good reason, I think! Shows like Yo Gabba Gabba. (There's a party in my tummy... so yummy, so yummy!) Now, I know many children love this show, but to me, it is kind of... creepy.

DJ Lance and the freaky monsers - Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex. (What?) The trippy music! And the psychadelic colours. It's like Woodstock for children.

From Wikipedia: "Although “Yo Gabba Gabba!” was created as a show for young children, it has slowly become a sensation among college students and even some parents who are entertained by its retro/indie style, bright colors, simplicity, and entertaining music from many of the popular bands featured on the show."

The most disturbing dude on this show?

This guy:

I mean... come on. What do you think when you see him? It's not just me, right? Right?

I can handle The Backyardigans. I used to love Blue's Clues. I like Mr. Maker and even though Ruby annoys me, I don't mind watching Max and Ruby. If Dora is on mute, I'm okay with her, too. But Yo Gabba Gabba is just a big mess of a show for me.

I just don't understand it! Do you?

This post was a written as part of Mama Kat's fabulous workshop.


And the winner is...

Last week, I wrote a post about what it means to be a mother. I decided to have a little Coach giveaway, and I asked others to write posts on their blogs about what being a mother means to them.

I am overwhelmed by the amazing entries I received! They all touched my heart. They were creative. Well-written. And lovely. Never did I realize how difficult a task it would be to pick... one winner. I wish I could award you all with the prize!

I loved reading your touching posts. The common theme seemed to be: a mother is everything. Just one word - mother - means so many things to us all. I loved Rebecca's post because every word rang true to my ears, about how we are teachers and leaders, caring and loyal. It was such a beautiful post!

I really enjoyed reading this wonderful post called "This mom thing".

With Shannon's post , I was nodding in agreement the entire time about everything she wrote: "A mother is always prepared with a bag full of snacks, crayons, coloring books, small toys, tissues, wet wipes, bandages for boo-boos, and the occasional child's hat or extra pair of pants. And this long after the diaper bag days."

A slide show by Jessica had me in happy tears and wanting another baby, too!

And I was blown away by the post written by Modern Mom, because she talked about the joy a babies first smile can bring, the primal need to protect ones young, and how she had experienced the sweet agony of nursing a sick baby through the night, and feeling the fierce pride of a child's first words, first steps, first accomplishments.

I loved reading this post about how we are the mothers we are because of the mothers that raised us.

Vicky's entry from Some Kind of Wonder Mom was amazingly well-written. She said that: "... I don't think anyone could have explained to me the enigma that motherhood turned out to be. It's an inexplicable conflict between utter chaos and complete unconditional love." Her entire post was beautifully written, and so very true - if you haven't read it yet, you should!

Now... the one entry that stood out the most to me, and the one we can all totally, 100% relate to is this post, titled A Mother is... a Superhero. "... If I had to sum up in one word what being a mother is, this would be it: SUPERHERO. When I think about Superheroes, and I think about Motherhood - the same themes, traits, and attributes come to mind..." I loved this post so much - please go read it, you'll see what I mean! We are moms. And we are all superheros!

Congratulations, Kiki, you are the winner! Thank you for writing such an awesome entry!

And thank you, all of you, for participating and for writing such brilliant posts. Not only are you all great moms - but you're amazing writers, too!

Mystic Mess

I went tanning tonight. But because of a recent scare I avoided the regular tanning beds, instead, giving Mystic Tan a try.

"How hard can it be," I thought to myself, "Jessica Simpson does it."

It takes a total of 60 seconds, and then... boom... just like that, I'll have a nice golden colour, just in time for the weekend.

"Hi," I said to the girl behind the counter. "I'd here for a Mystic Tan."

"Have you shaved and exfoliated today?" she asked me, with a serious look in her eyes.

"Yes." I replied, nodding.

"Are you wearing any perfume or moisturizer, any make-up?"

"A little." I answered, truthfully.

"You'll have to take it off. Here is an exfoliating wipe. Also, you are not allowed to sweat for 12 hours after you get the Mystic Tan. And no exercise or physical activity. Oh, and you can't shower for 24 hours." she said, as she walked me into the dark room at the back of the really nice tanning studio I was so used to.

Uh-oh... what was I getting myself into?

Once inside the room, she instructed me to take off all my jewellery, and to apply a gel to my hands and feet. Then she told me which towel to use to dry off afterwards, and how to do it. And then she showed me the towel I had to use to wipe off the gel from my hands and feet, and which towel to use to pat my face dry.

Finally, she showed me the two positions I had to stand in to get an even tan, front and back. One was called the Egyptian, and the other was called the Freeze position. Yes, I'm serious.

I was more stressed than university finals. Would I remember all those instructions? (Doubtful.)

The actual process, once you step inside the booth, lasts 60 seconds: 30 seconds spraying your front, 30 seconds spraying your back. You have to remember to turn around half way through, which isn't too hard, because the spray momentarily stops.


Once I pressed that green button... I started freaking out. First of all, this is no relaxing tanning experience like I was accustomed to - you know, lying down, feeling all warm, listening to music, drifting off to sleep until the lights go off, waking you up... no, no, no... this was... stressful. And SO loud. It sounded like a jet airplane taking off and the spray... just awful!

Of course, I forgot to take a deep breath, meaning that at some point, I was going to have to breathe. Only thing was, um, there was non-stop stinky chemical tanning spray being 'misted' ALL over me, so when I opened my mouth, gasping for air, I inhaled all that horrific tasting tanning spray. Again and again, I kept swallowing this disgusting spray.

Right away, I was convinced I would die. All this because I wanted to avoid skin cancer! What kind of sick joke was this? I could see the headlines in the paper the next day:

Silly local girl dies from inhaling too much Mystic Tan spray

"And she was doing this to avoid the harmful UV lights of the regular tanning beds..."

Anyway. I left the room before the spray even stopped, forgetting that I was told to wipe my legs first. Great, I thought to myself, now I have even screwed up the actual tan.

I had a moment of mommy guilt, too, because my poor children would have to one day learn their mother died from tanning. A stupid, selfish way to go, if you ask me. And it wasn't even fun! That was the worst part.

So now, as I watch my skin get darker, (so far, so good...) I have to worry that at the wedding I'm attending this weekend, I'll be glow-in-the-dark on the dance floor!

Please, pray for me. I don't want to be glowing.

Also? I'm never doing the Mystic Tan again. Ever.
Edited to add: UPDATE! Okay, after this... I have to say... my tan is FABUOUS! And I love it! And... knowing what I know now, I would do it again. Making sure, of course, to take a big breath first!

A mother is...

Four and a half years ago, on a sunny day in August, I sat outside a Starbucks patio with my husband - for the last time as a family of two.

Within a few hours, we were at the hospital, welcoming the arrival of our first-born son. That sunny day in August, my life changed in a way I never dreamed possible.

I became a mother. I fell madly, head-over-heels in love with my newborn baby, and experienced the very same feeling - instant love - with the arrival of our second son two years later.

Being a mother means many things to so many people, but to me, being a mother is simply the most amazing experience there is. It is what life is all about. There is no greater joy than hearing your children laughing, watching your children sleeping, or seeing them grow, strong and healthy. I am never fully satisfied unless my boys are happy too. My life has a greater purpose now. I love playing with my children, talking with my children, and reading to my children. I feel fulfilled with the simple things, like seeing them enjoy a meal. (Lord knows the blood, sweat and tears it sometimes takes to feed a toddler!) Loving, supporting, and protecting my children come naturally to me. Roar.

Being a mother is beautiful. Not glamorous, however. It means being extremely tired, never sleeping more than 4 consecutive hours a night, wiping up a lot of poo, stepping on LEGO, losing your patience, getting peed on, having sand thrown in your eyes, getting your hair pulled, having to clean vomit off the floor for the upteenth time, changing sheeets in the middle of the night and fevers at 2 a.m. that result in emergency visits to the hospital - but aside from all that - aside from the never-ending worry, the tiredness, and the 24 hours a day cleaning up?

Being a mother is an awesome thing!

In honour of Mother's Day, I want to know what you think the meaning of a mother is.

Write a post on your blog titled "A mother is...". Once you have written your post on your blog, you can link it up here. (See below!) Leave me a comment (in the comment section below) telling me you're playing along!

(Note: Under "Contest entry" section, just put the post title. Then, under link, your link to your blog post, and of course, don't forget to leave your email address!)

The winner of this contest will receive this really pretty Coach wristlet - perfect for carrying around the essentials like credit card, lip gloss, and business cards to hand out at BlogHer! (Or at the park!)

I look forward to reading all your wonderful posts!

I will pick a winner on Monday, May 10th.

Good Luck!

I'm also having a Melissa and Doug giveaway over on my brand-new review blog, too - check it out! Your chances of winning are excellent!

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